The Division 2 – Review

7 months after the events of the Dollar Flu outbreak in New York City, Division agents nationwide receive an urgent distress call. Washington D.C. is in trouble. Moments later, ISAC goes silent. Whatever happens next, determines the fate of the future of America.

Distress call…

The Division 2 is a tactical shooter action game set in Washington D.C. Players take on the role of an agent sworn to protect America during its darkest times. Upon arriving in D.C. the Division coordinator names you the new sheriff of D.C Your first task is to head to the Theater District and help out the locals living there. Once gaining the trust of the community, you start taking steps to taking back D.C.

It takes a few missions to grasp the scale of the conflict. The True Sons have a stranglehold over the city. Leaving groups like the Hyenas and the Outcasts to do as they please. Each faction controls multiple sectors of the city. The inhabitants of D.C will need to fight for each and every block to reclaim the city. But the factions are not truly gone until their Strongholds are no more. An assault on the Strongholds is near suicide without ISAC and the SHD network.

Settlement Tiers

To build up the forces necessary to storm the Strongholds, you will need the cooperation of the local settlements. The settlements will not send people to die for your cause. But the leaders will commit to the attack if you help them develop their settlements to the point that they are self sufficient and have enough defenses in place to withstand any attack. To do this, you must complete a variety of side missions and main storyline missions. The more missions you do, the more projects are unlocked.

There are 4 tiers of settlement development. Each tier brings a new staff member to the Base of Operations at the White House. These specialists will open the game up in terms of activities and further your customizations. Talking to the quartermaster will allow you to unlock skills and perks necessary to develop your character and your playstyle. To unlock them, you’re going to need SHD tech. Completing missions and searching the streets of D.C will net you all the SHD tech you will ever need.

Settlements

The game allows you to carry 2 primary weapons as well as a side arm. There is a very wide selection to choose from – ranging from assault rifles, light machine guns, submachine guns, shotguns, rifles, long rifles. Each weapon class is distinct in all own right to set it apart from other classes. They are further personalized with the inclusion of gun mods. Mods improve one aspect of the gun’s performance but at the cost of another. This game is all about figuring out the right synergies for the right situation. Mixing and matching gear is a joy in of itself.

Battles in The Division are fast and hectic with enemies constantly trying to flank you to force you out of cover. Thankfully, Division agents have access to advance tech capable of evening out the odds. Players can choose between 8 base skills to use. Consisting of offensive and defensive variants, skills allow the player to take engagements in whatever way they want. Agents have access to one skill at the start of the game, and can earn the rest of them by taking part in story missions. Furthermore, you can upgrade your skills through skill mods, but it’ll require you to have the right amount of skill power in order to activate the mod.

Hey, how’s it hanging?

The Hyenas are the first enemy faction you will come into contact with. They are basically druggies and scavengers looking to sow chaos wherever they go. The Outcasts want nothing but revenge for everything they’ve been through while in quarantine. Most Outcasts are carriers of the virus and will stop at nothing to make others suffer the way they did.

The True Sons consist of JTF mutineers and military traitors. Their leadership believes that the strong must rule and anyone who opposes them are to be killed on the spot. Defeating the True Sons and killing their leader will the Black Tusks out of hiding. Unsurprisingly, they represent the toughest challenge yet of the endgame as their tech is unmatched compared to the other factions.

The White House is the Base of Operations where the remaining elements of the government try to preserve what’s left of America. The base is the central hub where agents upgrade their tech and accept bounties in their spare time. The West Wing of the White House hosts the Clan area. Players meet up and form clans with the goal of being recognized as the top clan.. And lastly, upstairs is where you will find the Dark Zone officer. Speaking with her will award you a perk for each of your Dark Zone levels.

This isn’t creepy… at all…

Spend enough time in one of the side mission locations, and one could tell that it’s of a higher standard than most others.  In other games, they have the player go to different locations and do the same thing, with assets looking the same since the last location. But in The Division, the side missions are all unique locations with a story to tell. The objectives may be the same and it’s still all about killing bad guys, but it’s presented in such a way that the experience is fresh for each location.

If you ignore the occasional slip up with the NPC models, you will find that the graphics in the Division are top notch. The day and night cycles transition seamlessly, enhanced with added weather effects and this is one very pretty looking game. The same high quality is also present in the game’s sound design as there are multiple unique sounds for each enemy and weapon type. Electronic music punctuates the moment during and after combat. The battle music starts off slowly, but picks up rather quickly as the battle rages on.

“Producktive”, get it?

One of the best things about the Division is its attention to detail and strong environmental storytelling. The developers boast that the current map seen in the game is a 1 to 1 recreation to locations in real life Washington D.C. With that information. they manage to tell some stories outside of the main campaign. Through a series of audio recording and looking at locations, you can begin to build a picture as the events that led up to the formation of the various factions.

To round out the experience, the game allows for agents to work together to advance the story. Unfortunately, your allies will only take part in missions associated with the player deepest into the story. There are also PvP game modes where players form 2 teams of 4 and try to overcome the other team. The high risk, high reward game mode, The Dark Zone, now features 3 zones to explore and features changes to the rogue system.

There is a good 35 – 40 hours gameplay in the base story mode alone. Additionally, this does put into account the many hours of fighting against the Black Tusks.  Many more hours to be had in Dark Zones and PvP game modes as well. Simply put, there is A LOT of things to do in this game. Exploring the map is a great way to stumble upon map activities. There are many collectibles to earn in the form of lost art, backpack keychains, dyes, and hunter masks. The list goes on and on, with each level seemingly introducing more activities to take part in. There is even an entire subsystem dedicated to taking and maintaining control points on the map that updates regularly.

Oh hey… Purple rarity pants…

Apart from resources and guns, players can also find cosmetic items in lootable objects. Building up an inventory to choose from and mixing and matching is one of the subtle joys of looter shooters. If you are feeling like diving into more fashion option, the game does support a loot box system where players can purchase crates. The contents of which can either be a piece of clothing or an emote.

The End Game promises new challenges, weapons, missions, and gear. As well as introducing the new 3 specializations and their unique skill sets and signature weapons. All in all, it is a build up towards the Year One content that promises the inclusion of new Strongholds and 8 player Raids. A constant stream of content ensures players won’t be getting bored anytime soon.  Above all else, it seems like the future of this game is very bright.

Ummmmm… Now what?

Of course there are a few issues that pop up despite this glowing review. For starters, a lack of tutorials in some of the game’s core features really hurt the game in terms of finding people to do missions with. Bugs and glitches occasionally occur. This is to be expected with an online open world game. But The Division is more polished at launch than other looter shooters so far. Frame rates also seem to dip after hours of play. Honestly, I don’t know if it’s an issue specific with my unit. But an hour of rest is enough to get it back to full functionality.

I’ve encountered bugs where the enemies don’t spawn. Unfortunately, this happened during one of the game’s bounty missions, resulting in failure for my part. Similarly, in another instance of the game failing to update properly happened when I was saving a civilian in one of the underground areas. After killing the guards and claiming the key, I rushed towards her cell and opened it. To my surprise, she just stood there, totally unresponsive to anything. So, I just left the room and let that mission go. In other words, there was nothing else I could do. But hey, at least my PS4 didn’t crash.

United We Stand

Though not completely flawless launch, The Division 2 is an amazing game. Because of it, we now have a new standard to look towards when the next online game launches. And it sure as hell didn’t need to have a long road map just to recover from the fallout of a disastrous launch. The game has everything it needs and with new content just over the horizon, there is all the hope in the world that this game will continue to stay healthy for a very long time. I know it’s hard to recommend a looter shooter when there’s so many to choose from. But I hope you will consider to pick up The Division 2 somewhere along the line. It is worth it.

Fun fact: The developers at Ubisoft host a weekly show called The Division 2: State of the Game. During the usually 30 minute long broadcast, they keep us up to date with latest happenings on with the game. It’s amazing how much support this game is getting, and it’s only going to get better in the years to come.

DisclosureThis review is based on a review code provided by Ubisoft. Read our review policy to know how we go with our game reviews.
Tested on: PS4

Good
  • Plenty of activities to do solo or with a group
  • Environmental storytelling
  • Fun and engaging cover shooter mechanics
  • End game content is top of its genre
  • 1 to 1 recreation of sections of Washington D.C.
  • Hardly any issues with server or connection
  • Free Year One content
Bad
  • Absence of tutorials for main game features
  • Bugs and glitches associated with open world games
  • Unforeseen bugs present after post launch
  • Frame rate occasionally drops after extended hours of play
8
Great
Written by
Full time indie game developer who loves breaking down mechanics with the hopes of reverse-engineering them for his own games. Not as evil as it sounds.

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